American Council for Capital Formation

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Global warming.jpg This article is part of the Climate project of Spinwatch.


The ACCF calls itself "a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the advocacy of tax and environmental policies that encourage saving and investment." The ACCF says it is recognised in the media as "a well-connected spokesman for American business in Washington", and a "key player" in policy circles. It is "one of the most influential organizations operating behind the scenes" in the Washington policymaking arena.[1] In 2002, the ACCF opened an "affiliate" organisation in Brussels, called the International Council for Capital Formation, which is run by Dr. Margo Thorning (see below). It seems to be nothing more than an anti-Kyoto front organisation.


The ACCF does not disclose its funding sources on its web-site, but its Center for Policy Research has received some $549,000 from Exxon since 1998.[2] An indication of likely funders can be gleamed from a decade ago. In the early nineties, ACCF admitted that its programme called "Tax and Environmental Policies and U.S. Economic Growth" had been sponsored by the following:

Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.; American Business Conference; American Petroleum Institute; Baltimore Gas & Electric Company; Cahners Publishing Company; Chemical Manufacturers Association; Dow Chemical Company; Dresser Foundation, Inc.; Exxon Company, USA; IBM Corporation; Illinois Power Company; Inland Steel Company; LTV Steel Company; Manufacturers' Alliance for Productivity and Innovation; Mitchell Energy Corporation; Monsanto Company; National Venture Capital Association; Pennsylvania Power and Light Company; Potomac Electric Power Company; Shell Oil Company; Texaco Foundation; Thermo Electron Corporation; and Weyerhaeuser Company.[3]

Political Links

The ACCF says it "represents a broad cross-section of the American business community, including the manufacturing and financial sectors, Fortune 500 companies and smaller firms, investors, and associations from all sectors of the economy."[4] Its Board of Directors includes powerful polluting industries, and former republicans including Hon. Bill Archer the former Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; Hon. William Brock, the ex-Secretary of labor (1985-1987); Hon. Kenneth M. Duberstein. Ex- Chief of Staff to President Reagan; William Ruckelshaus, the ex-head of the EPA, George Shultz; Hon. Mark A. Weinberger former Assistant Secretary, Department of the Treasury under George Bush and Hon. John C. Whitehead former Deputy Secretary of State under Shultz.

There are also prominent Democrats on the board such as Hon. Lloyd M. Bentsen, former Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton, former Ambassador to Mexico, James R. Jones, and Robert Strauss former US Ambassador to the Russian Federation (see below).  There are also former politicians who are ex-Scholars (see below).


Dr. Charles E. Walker - ACCF Center for Policy Research Founder and Chairman, former Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, Chairman, Walker and Walker LLC.[5] Ex-board member for Enron from 1985-99. Enron is said to have paid $50,000 a year for ten years to the ACCF.[6] Enron's head of the board's finance committee, Herbert Winokur, was also on the ACCF board as was Arthur Anderson auditor David B. Duncan who was accused of shredding pertinent Enron documents.[7]

Mark A. Bloomfield - ACCF Center for Policy Research President. Conservative journalist Robert Novak says that "Bloomfield is president of one of Washington's most influential economic policy think tanks. Well-schooled in the arts of both economics and politics, Bloomfield is one of the most influential figures operating behind the scenes in the Congress."[8] Bloomfield and Thorning host "policy evenings on tax and environmental policy" at Bloomfield's "two-story apartment with its own antique cage-style elevator and a room which is a replica of an 18th century Spanish galleon."[9]

Dr. Margo Thorning - ACCF Center for Policy Research Executive Vice President and Director of Research. Dr. Thorning also serves as the managing director of the International Council for Capital Formation, a new think tank incorporated in Brussels.[10] Thorning is a leading critic of the economic costs of the Kyoto Protocol and of climate change mitigation strategies.

Board of Directors

  • Hon. Bill Archer - Former Republican Chairman, House Ways and Means Committee.
  • Hon. Lloyd M. Bentsen - Former Secretary of the Treasury
  • Hon. William E. Brock – Ex U.S. Senator and trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington [11]
  • John J. Byrne Chairman - White Mountains Insurance Group, Ltd.
  • Red Cavaney - President and Chief Executive Officer, American Petroleum Institute
  • Joe F. Colvin - President and Chief Executive Officer, Nuclear Energy Institute
  • Josephine S. Cooper - President and Chief Executive Officer, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
  • John M. Derrick, Jr - Chairman, Pepco Holdings Incorporated
  • Hon. Kenneth M. Duberstein - Ex- Chief of Staff to President Reagan
  • Hon. Glenn English - Chief Executive Officer, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • Matthew P. Fink - President, Investment Company Institute
  • Robert W. Galvin - Chairman Emeritus, Motorola, Inc.
  • Hon. William H. Gray - III former Chairman, House Committee on the Budget
  • J. Barry Griswell - Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Principal Financial Group
  • Mark Heesen - President, National Venture Capital Association
  • M. Christine Jacobs -Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Theragenics Corporation
  • Hon. James R. Jones - former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
  • Thomas R. Kuhn - President Edison Electric Institute
  • Marc E. Lackritz - President Securities Industry Association
  • Donald L. Lucas - Venture Capitalist
  • Frederic V. Malek - Chairman, Thayer Capital Partners, L.P. Hon.
  • W. Henson Moore - President, American Forest & Paper Association
  • Hon. Gerald L. Parsky - Chairman, Aurora Capital Group
  • Dr. Richard W. Rahn - Chairman, Novecon. Ex-Economic advisor to Bush senior, Chairman, Institute for Global Economic Growth and an adjunct fellow at the Cato Institute (also Board of ICCF)[12]
  • Dr. Barry K. Rogstad - former President, American Business Conference
  • Hon. William D. Ruckelshaus - former Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Hon. L. William Seidman - former Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Hon. George P. Shultz - former Secretary of State under Reagan, on the Board of the ICCF and Fellow at Hoover (see below).
  • Bob Stallman - President, American Farm Bureau Federation 
  • Hon. Robert S. Strauss - former U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation. Robert S. Strauss became Chairman of the Board of the U.S.-Russia Business Council in January 1993. He is a Partner at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Field, L.L.P, one of the half dozen key law firms regularly used by ExxonMobil.[13]Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has been helping to open doors for Russian oil giant Lukoil[14]and Kazakhstan.[15] According to the Center for Responsive Politics Akin Gump is the third highest legal contributor to the 2004 election cycle having donated $343,257 of which 45% went to the Democrats and 55% to the Republicans.[16] Lobbying records at the Senate show that in 2003 Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld's clients included: Amerada Hess; BP Exploration (Alaska); and Exxon Mobil Production Company amongst others.[17]
  • Hon. Mark A. Weinberger - Former Assistant Secretary (Tax Policy), U.S. Department of the Treasury under George Bush
  • Hon. John C. Whitehead - Ex-Republican Deputy Secretary of State under Shultz Chairman Emeritus of the Brookings Institution[18]. And on the Board of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) (see below).

Board of Trustees

  • Thomas D. Campbell - President Thomas D. Campbell and Associates
  • Maxine C. Champion - President Champion Strategies
  • Ernest S. Christian, Jr - Attorney-at-Law
  • Hon. Manuel H. Johnson - Ex Vice-Chairman Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. 
  • Larry W. Pollock - Vice-President and Director of Taxes Weyerhaeuser Company

Research scholars

  • Dr. B. Douglas Bernheim - Professor of Economics Stanford University
  • Hon. Michael J. Boskin - former Chairman President’s Council of Economic Advisers
  • Hon. David F. Bradford - Professor of Economics and Public Affairs Princeton University
  • Dr. Robert E. Hall - Professor of Economics and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution Stanford University
  • Prof. Arnold C. Harberger -Professor of Economics University of California at Los Angeles
  • Dr. Kevin A. Hassett  - Resident Scholar American Enterprise Institute
  • Hon. R. Glenn Hubbard - former Chairman President’s Council of Economic Advisers
  • Hon. Sidney L. Jones  - former Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy U.S. Department of the Treasury
  • Prof. Dale W. Jorgenson  - Samuel W. Morris University Professor Harvard University
  • Prof. Burton G. Malkiel  - Chemical Bank Chairman’s Professor of Economics Bendheim Center for Finance Princeton University
  • Dr. Alan S. Manne  - Professor Emeritus, Operations Research Stanford University
  • Dr. Charles McLure, Jr.  - Hoover Institution Stanford University
  • Hon. Laurence H. Meyer  - former Governor Federal Reserve Board
  • Dr. Rudolph G. Penner - former Director Congressional Budget Office
  • Prof. Roger B. Porter - Professor of Government and Business John F. Kennedy School of Government Harvard University
  • Dr. James M. Poterba - Mitsui Professor of Economics Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Hon. Richard L. Schmalensee  - Dean, Sloan School of Management Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Dr. John B. Shoven  - Charles Schwab Professor of Economics Stanford University
  • Hon. Murray L. Weidenbaum  -former Chairman President’s Council of Economic Advisers
  • Hon. Ed Zschau -Visiting Lecturer Princeton University.

Issues - Climate

Senate lobbying records for 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003 show that Mark Bloomfield, Margo Thorning and Mari Lee Dunn were all registered lobbyists for the ACCF on Climate Change Policy and the Kyoto Protocol. For example the 2003 record says "During the first six months of the 2003, ACCF lobbyists had contact with various covered officials in Congress and the Administration to discuss the economic consequences of climate change policy, in particular implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. Lobbying efforts included discussing the macroeconomic impact of global climate change issues with covered officials in Congress and the Administration and providing background materials on the macroeconomic impact of the Kyoto protocol."[19]

Dr. Thorning's anti-climate activity goes back to the late nineties. In 1997, Thorning attended the anti-environmental "Wise Use" Fly-In for Freedom conference, along with climate sceptic scientist Dr. Robert Balling (see below). According to the Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR) that tracked anti-environmental activity, Dr. Thorning "alarmed the crowd by touting statistics supporting her view that the treaty would be a disaster for the economy, hurting the very people attending the Fly-In."[20]

Back in 1998 the ACCF Issues Roundtable concerned the "The Outlook for U.S. Business in the Global Economy: Impact of Tax, Trade, and Environmental Policies on U.S. Corporate Competitiveness." Along with Mark Bloomfield and Thorning were F. Gregory Ahern, State Street Bank and Trust Company; Stuart J. Brahs, Principal Financial Group; E. Joseph Hillings, Enron Corp; Paul R. Huard, National Association of Manufacturers; Joe J. Mayhew Chemical Manufacturers Association; Barry Solarz, American Iron and Steel Institute and William O'Keefe, then vice president, American Petroleum Institute (see below).[21]

A year later in 1999, another Issues Roundtable was on Capital Formation Strategy and included for its campaign strategy for 2000 Theresa A. Pugh, director, Environmental Affairs, American Forest & Paper Association; and Arthur G. Randol, III, senior environmental adviser, from Exxon Mobil Corp.[22]

Earlier in 1999, when three climate sceptic Senators - Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alas.), the energy committee chairman, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), and Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) introduced an anti-Kyoto bill, Dr. Thorning testified that Kyoto would hurt the US economy and that "U.S. goals in international climate policy meetings should include finding ways to involve developing countries in emissions reduction, clarifying flexible mechanisms, and avoiding trading caps."[23] Later that year, in December 1999, writing in the Oil and Gas Journal, Thorning warned of "potentially serious consequences for all Americans" if America signed Kyoto.[24]

In 2001, she defended Bush's decision to pull out of the Kyoto agreement and attacked "Europe's Hypocrisy" over the climate issue. "Neither the United States nor the EU can afford the costly and politically destabilizing sacrifices in economic growth required to meet the Kyoto targets. What is needed to meet the potential threat of climate change due to human activity is an approach that stresses voluntary action to reduce CO2 emissions and is based on sound science, technology development and participation of the developing world (including countries such as China, India, Brazil and Mexico) in emission management."[25]

In the spring of 2003, Thorning and the ICCF organised a series of conferences in Australia with the right-wing think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs and the Electricity Supply Association.[26]

In October 2003 Thorning was invited to Moscow to give a paper called "Kyoto and Beyond: Economic Impact on Developed Economies" as part of the Corporate Carbon Strategies Panel at the World Climate Change Conference [WCCC]. Thorning argued that "Russia needs to think seriously about ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on this basis and use models that will accurately assess its economic impact. Unless proper analysis is carried out, Russia will incur serious economic damage as it continues its difficult transition from a command to market economy"[In 2001, she defended Bush's decision to pull out of the Kyoto agreement and attacked "Europe's Hypocrisy" over the climate issue. "Neither the United States nor the EU can afford the costly and politically destabilizing sacrifices in economic growth required to meet the Kyoto targets. What is needed to meet the potential threat of climate change due to human activity is an approach that stresses voluntary action to reduce CO2 emissions and is based on sound science, technology development and participation of the developing world (including countries such as China, India, Brazil and Mexico) in emission management."[27]

The same month, April 2001, Thorning was listed as one of National Center's "Earth Day Information Center" policy experts, along with Dr. Patrick Michaels, a known climate sceptic (see below); Dr. Henry Miller, from the Hoover Institution and Competitive Enterprise Institute and biotech proponent (see below); Dr. Steven Hayward, from the right wing Pacific Research Institute; and Ron Arnold, from the Center For Defense of Free Enterprise and one of the gurus of the anti-environmental "Wise Use" movement." [28]

Three months later, Thorning was hardening her anti-Kyoto position arguing on National Public Radio that: "So it really doesn't--it's almost pointless for the US to put on a hair shirt and suffer in terms of high energy taxes to cut emissions because it's not going to reduce global concentrations."[29] Thorning's position on Kyoto has remained hostile. In 2002 she argued that "the costs of addressing climate change far exceed the possible benefits that early action would provide us."[30]

In the spring of 2003, Thorning and the ICCF (see below) organised a series of conferences in Australia with the right-wing think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs and the Electricity Supply Association.[31]

Later that month she wrote of her experiences in Moscow and argued that if Russia was unlikely to ratify Kyoto, then US domestic climate measures, to stabilise emissions, such as the Lieberman-McCain bill, were "flawed". "At the recent World Climate Change Conference [WCCC] in Moscow, a marathon five-day gathering of climate scientists and policy experts from all over the world in which I participated, top Russian policy-makers questioned the benefits to Russia of signing the Kyoto Protocol. Dr. Andrei Illarionov, President Vladimir Putin's economic adviser, made it clear that Russia's priority is to double its Gross Domestic Product by 2010. Achieving that goal will, according to Mr. Illarionov, require a doubling of carbon emissions, due to the strong correlation between energy use and economic growth. In light of the increasing probability that the Kyoto Protocol will not go into effect, defeated by the growing recognition of its impracticality, it seems especially unwise for U.S. policy-makers to try to pass Kyoto-like targets for the United States, such as those in the Lieberman-McCain bill. Shackling ourselves to meaningless targets [in the sense that U.S. emission reductions will have virtually no impact on the growth in global emissions] will only slow productive investment in the United States, reduce job growth and hinder U.S. competitiveness."[32]

In the article she quoted Dr. Andrei Illarionov, President Vladimir Putin's economic adviser and what he had said at a press conference in Moscow on the 3rd October, namely that "The United States and Australia have calculated that they cannot bear the economic consequences of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. If they are not rich enough to deal with these consequences, my question is whether Russia is much richer than the U.S. and Australia." He concluded, 'Considering that the Kyoto Protocol is restricting economic growth . . . it means dooming the country to poverty, backwardness and weakness'". Interestingly at a press conference the previous month Illarionov had addressed the press at a Russian Science conference. In his presentation he used several slides taken from a study undertaken by Thorning. [33]

The next month Thorning attended a conference organised by the American Enterprise Institute along with climate sceptic Sallie Baliunas, Art Green, from Exxon Mobil, James Glassman (TechCentral Station and AEI) Paula Dobriansky, US under secretary of State for global affairs, Gerd-Rainer Weber, German Coal Mining and Roger Bate, AEI.[34]

At the end of the month, the ACCF's affiliate the ICCF held a Climate Change Forum entitled 'Are We Ready for Cop 9?' in Brussels in association with Foratum, the European Nuclear Energy Forum whose Secretary General sits on the ICCF advisory board. It was hosted by Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca MEP, the Vice President of the European Parliament[35]. Given that the event was being part-sponsored by the nuclear industry, and two of its members sit on ICCF's Advisory Council, it is hardly surprising that in Thorning's speech one of the Alternative Strategies to Address Climate Change was to 'Expand the role of nuclear energy'.[36]

ICCF's website notes that 'EU heads of government are beginning to express rising concerns over the costs of limiting greenhouse gas emissions'. In part, policymaker's increasing concern is due to the work of the ICCF in providing macroeconomic analyses of the cost of emission reductions to major EU countries like Italy, Spain, Germany, Netherlands and the UK.[37]

Two days before the start of the UN Framework meeting, Thorning addressed yet another conference, this one organised by the Italian right-wing think tank, the Instituto Bruno Leoni, which was co-sponsored by the Centro Europeo di Studi su Popolazione (CESPAS) and Sviluppo e Ambiente an Italian organisation. At the first panel speakers included known climate sceptic S. Fred Singer (see below), journalist Dominic Standish, the High Frontier Foundation's Klaus Heiss, and Italian Air Force major Fabio Malaspina, chaired by Prof. Franco Battaglia of the Third University of Rome.[38]

The second session was chaired by Julian Morris from the International Policy Network (see below) and included Antonio Gaspari of CESPAS, Prof. Emilio Gerelli of the University of Pavia, IPN's Kendra Okonski, and Thorning. A third panel included 3 Italian politicians and Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.[39]

In December 2003 at the UN Framework Meeting, Dr. Thorning was listed as an 'Expert' available for 'commentary on Kyoto Protocol, COP-9 and global warming' for the International Policy Network IPN (see below), along with Kendra Okonski (ex-CEI now of the IPN), Martin Agerup, President of the Copenhagen Academy for Future Studies, and Julian Morris, the Director of International Policy Network, and ex-Institute of Economic Affairs in London. [40]

Address: 1750 K Street, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20006-2302



2. Source Greenpeace - data from company reports for 98, 00, 01, 02 (data not available for 99 and pre-98).


4. M. Thorning (2000) - Prepared Testimony of Margo Thorning, Phd. Senior Vice President and Chief Economist American Council for Capital Formation, Before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,  Subject - the Impact of the Kyoto Protocol on Economic Growth: Tax Policies to Promote Technology and Sequestration, 31 March


6. Associated Press; (2002) Enron Directors;, 6 July;







13. Sapino Jeffreys, B (2001) A Litigator at Heart, The National Law Journal, 12 March,

14. The National Journal (2003) 15 February





19. For example:




23. Oil & Gas Journal (1999) "Global Warming Bill Introduced in US Senate", 3 May.

24. M. Thorning (1999), "How Climate Change Policy Could Shrink The Federal Budget Surplus And Stifle Us Economic Growth", The Oil and Gas Journal, 13 December

25. M. Thorning (2001) "Kyoto: Europe's Hypocrisy", Washington Post, Editorial, 6 April.

26. US Newswire (2001)"150 Scientists, Economists and Public Policy Experts in 28 Environmental Fields Available for Earth Day Interviews", 17 April

27. National Public Radio (2001), "Differing Views On Combating Global Warming", 16 July

28. National Public Radio (2002), "Costs Of Global Warming and Climate Change", 7 June.


30. PR Newswire European (2003), "Kyoto: Should Russia Ratify?", 1 October.

31. M. Thorning (2003) "Flawed Environmental Policy; Lieberman-McCain bill is Wrong Approach", The Washington Times, 29 October.

32. M. Thorning (2003), "Flawed Environmental Policy; Lieberman-McCain bill is Wrong Approach", The Washington Times, 29 October.




36. M. Thorning (2003), The Impact of Economic Models on Climate Change Policy: Contrasts Between the U.S. and the E.U, Power point presentation available at